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Weekend forecast: Bluegrass and blues, and the Zombies too

Bill DeYoung



Billy Strings, the hottest thing in bluegrass and Americana music, plays two night this weekend at the Yuengling Center. Photo provided.

The big music news this weekend is the first Tampa Bay appearance by 31-year-old bluegrass/Americana wunderkind Billy Strings, who among other things has six wins from the International Bluegrass Association (including “Entertainer of the Year” for 2023).

Strings and his band will play Friday and Saturday nights at the Yuengling Center, on the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus.

A flattop guitar player of considerable prowess, Strings also a gifted vocalist. His debut album, 2021’s Home, took the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year. Strings’ most popular duets (both Grammy-nominated) are “California Sober” (with Willie Nelson) and “High Note” (with Dierks Bentley).

To put his popularity in context, his shows Aug. 19 and 20 at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre are sold out.

Find tickets at this link.


Blues at Vinoy

Guitarist Tab Benoit is Sunday’s Blues Festival headliner. Photo: Facebook.

Grace Potter, with the explosive blues/rock singing voice, is the Friday-night bill topping performer at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival, in St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park. This has been one massive springtime event for nearly two decades now, drawing thousands to the Bayfront greenway.

There’s music starting at lunchtime all three days; Saturday’s headliner is the band Larkin Poe, while Sunday brings the (most welcome) return of singer and guitarist Tab Benoit. Read all about here, with a full daily schedule and ticket links.


Walking, not dead

For all the talk (especially in these pages) about legacy rock bands touring the nostalgia concert circuit with few, or no original members, sometimes the exceptions rise to the surface. The British Invasion band the Zombies, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, is at Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre Friday.

In America, the Zombies only had three hits, but they were all pretty iconic: “She’s Not There,” “Tell Her No” and most profoundly, “Time of the Season,” which is today an evergreen anthem of the psychedelic rock era.

These tunes were written by keyboardist Rod Argent, and sung by Colin Blunstone and Argent. They both went on, post-Zombies, to successful solo careers (Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” is a staple on classic rock radio). At some point, they recruited two other guys and brought the Zombies back to life (see what we did there?)

This is the band playing the Cap Friday. It’s Argent and Blunstone – along with some other dudes – so it’s the real deal. Tickets.


Other concerts

Tonight at 7 at the Floridian Social Club: Texan pop/rock trio Fastball (1998’s “The Way” and “Fire Escape”). Tickets.

Chicano power rock trio Los Lonely Boys play the Capitol Theatre Saturday. Tickets.

At Morsani Hall (in the Straz Center) Saturday: 5th grade teacher turned comedian Eddie B. Tickets.


The classics

MC Voices, a spinoff group from the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, will perform Christopher Tin’s The Lost Birds: An Extinction Elegy at Friday in the Museum of Fine Arts St. Petersburg’s Marley Music Room. The 7 p.m. concert is in conjunction with the ongoing exhibit The Nature of Art. Find tickets here.

At the Palladium Theater’s Hough Hall Saturday, a recital from harpist Anna Kate Mackle and percussionist John Shaw, both principal players with The Florida Orchestra. The Mackle-Shaw Duo, as they call themselves, will play – among other pieces – a premiere work by composer Mattea Williams, a commission made possible by a grant from the Palladium. Tickets.

Dvorak’s New World Symphony is the centerpiece of this weekend’s Florida Orchestra concerts, Friday at 8 p.m. in Morsani Hall, Straz Center, and Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) at the Mahaffey Theater. With Julian Rachlin conducting, the program also includes Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante (featuring violinist Sarah McElravy) and Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture. Tickets are here.

American Stage’s “Beauty and the Beast” is at Demens Landing through May 5. Photo provided.

On theater stages

American Stage’s outdoor production of the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast enters its second weekend at Demens Landing; find tickets here.

Tampa actor/director Christopher Marshall has hooked up once again with D.C. and New York-based Potomac Theatre Project; Marshall is one of the actors in Albert’s Bridge and New Found Land, two Tom Stoppard plays produced as semi-staged readings tonight (Thursday, April 11) and Friday at The Studio@620. Last year’s Potomac visit, with Marshall and other actors, was a sellout. Jim Sorsensen, Don Walker, Jay Hoff, Catie Clark and others are in the casts, with Cheryl Faraone (Potomac co-founder) directing. Find more – and get tickets – here.

Erica Sutherlin directs Nollywood Dreams, a romantic comedy by Jocelyn Bioh, opening Saturday at freeFall Theatre. Fahnlohnee Reeves, Hillary Scales, Clinton C.H. Harris, Shelby Ronea and Andresia Moseley star in a story about big dreams, big ambitions and big tensions during the height of the Nigerian movie industry (apparently there was such a thing) in the 1990s. Tickets.

The double-bill of James McLure’s one-act comedies Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star is entering its final weekend at the Off-Central; find showtimes and tickets here. Off-Central owner Ward Smith, who happens to be one of the Lone Star actors, will be Friday’s guest on our Arts Alive! podcast.

Shelby Ronea, left, and Andresia Moseley appear in “Nollywood Dreams” at freeFall Theatre. Photo: Julia Rifino.

Your weekend arts forecast appears every Thursday in the Catalyst

Please add us to your mailing list – send all press releases and event info to bill@stpetecatalyst.com.

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